Motivational Interview with Preena. 

Preena is an Economics graduate from the Shri Ram College of Commerce. With varied interests, she firmly believes in strong ideation and stronger execution. Independent and competitive, she likes wearing the creative hat and currently handles Digital Marketing at MINDLER. She possesses a “getting things done” attitude when it comes to work, even if it is midnight. A risk-taker, a start-up enthusiast and a budding social entrepreneur, she loves to dream big.

Q. How did you first come across an idea for a Social Enterprise?

Entrepreneurship has always fascinated me. I have always tried to be in the know about of the latest trends in the startup ecosystem, and at the back of my mind I always knew that I would be an entrepreneur. My inclination towards entrepreneurship steadily grew.

Watching a young social entrepreneur’s boundless energy of solving a problem pertaining in our society, the innovation and creativity towards a cause that inspires them, their persistence and positive vision for the future fills me with excitement.

Q. How was iOTA born?

My friend, Megha came across Mr. CV Surendran’s profile on Facebook (a specially-abled artist from Kerala). His paintings were made with ball-point pens but the effect they gave, was no less than oil-painted landscapes. His works were par excellence, and it was saddening to see no recognition for such amazing work.

She called me up instantly and shared the idea of helping artists like him, and together we hatched the idea of iOTA – doing our bit in reframing these lives.

As we went on researching specially-abled artists, 50 names made to our list in just the initial search! They capture human emotions perfectly in their paintings, some even try to capture future and past together in their works, yet all they need is a path where their works can be reach the masses, which can turn their passion into a successful career.

Thus, gaining recognition for them became our primary motivation and goal.

Q. What were the challenges you faced taking this project off the ground?

The main problems we faced were convincing the artists to engage with us, making them believe in the idea of iOTA and the initial funds required to start off. The challenge was to bring a shift in the perception of the artists around initiatives like iOTA.

They do not trust organizations easily as they get too many offers that often end in disappointment. Hence, building their trust was our foremost goal because without them, iOTA couldn’t have taken off. After we had seven artists on board, we started looking for the means to earn the deserved recognition for them and this is when crowdfunding happened to us.

Q. What were your initial apprehensions about crowdfunding and how did they get dispelled?

Crowdfunding was a new concept to me, something I hadn’t heard about before. It was after I had met the co-founder of Desired Wings and the team, that my perception changed.

Validation plays a big role and who better could have validated the idea than the people, in general. The team and I had our own apprehensions before we launched the project; but as I researched on the crowd-funding model I became convinced and we decided to go for it.

Q. Has crowdfunding fetched you the results that you were hoping for?

Of course! We are happy with the way the campaign has turned out to be. The artists and the initiative attracted a lot of media and coverage from the esteemed newspapers like Deccan Herald, The Pioneer, Financial Express, and online media portals like The Better India, The Logical Indian, Youth Ki Awaaz, University Express helped us a lot in gaining recognition for our artists’ works.

Fever FM and Josh Talks agreed to be the Alpha Backers for our campaign. We were raising funds to not only hold the first ever crowd-funded exhibition for specially-abled artists, but also aiming to create an ecosystem with artists to reach the art enthusiasts, and it was all made easier with crowd-funding.


Her attention for the differently-abled children made them super-abled

Q. What is the message that you’d like to convey to the youth?

I’d like my peers to learn what I am learning too – I was lost, but I realized that Lost is a great place to discover yourself!

It breaks me when someone is visibly excited about a feeling or an idea or a hope or a risk taken, and they tell me about it but preface it with: “Sorry, this is dumb but -”.

Don’t do that. Dream so big that it’s silly. Laugh so hard that it’s obnoxious. And don’t you ever feel unintelligent. And don’t ever apologize for your dreams. Don’t you ever shrink so you can squeeze yourself into small places and small minds.

GROW, it’s a big world. There’s room, you will eventually fit – I promise.

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